The Roles of the Individuals in the Juvenile Justice System

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1. Who are the individuals involved in the Juvenile Justice System, and what are their roles? How and why does this differ from the adult justice system?

There are many individuals involved in the Juvenile Justice System that are not present in its adult counterpart. These individuals have been given their roles based on the fact that juvenile court and adult court strive to accomplish two completely different things. The Juvenile Justice System is designed so that any children entering this system will leave it as a productive member of society. That is, the aim of the Juvenile Justice System is not retribution, but rather transformation into a better person so they do not commit crimes in the future. In adult court, the main focus is punishment for the offender's crimes against society. The prosecutor in juvenile court seeks to work with the defendant and judge to come up with the best option for each child. The judge also considers each young offender's background, such as family life, grades, school trouble, etc. In adult court, the prosecutor has a strictly adversarial relationship with the defendant and the judge will usually not consider such background information as is taken into consideration in juvenile court. There are also many individuals in the Juvenile Justice System that help out reforming the child, such as those who run halfway houses and other transformation programs. This individuals are usually absent from adult court, while in juvenile court they are instrumental in implementing punishments for the youth.

2. What are the objectives of aftercare for juveniles? How does aftercare operate? Does it seem the objectives are usually met? Why or why not? What might make these programs more successful?

The objectives for aftercare are parallel to the objectives for the entire Juvenile Justice System. That is, change the offending child into a better person who will not break the law again. Aftercare is implemented after the juvenile goes through some sort of out-of-home care, such as drug rehabilitation facilities or confinement. Aftercare programs attempt to monitor the juvenile to keep him out of trouble after returning home. There is a great emphasis placed on the importance of aftercare programs simply because the child is usually returning to the environment in which they first committed the crime. Often times, youth feel the need to act out because of environmental stressors. Aftercare attempts to make sure the transition back into normal life goes smoothly and the child is still able to refrain from illegal activities. It seems that these objectives are met some of the time, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. The success of these programs can be measured by the occurrence of repeat offenses. Because there is still a very high incidence of repeat offenders, aftercare can certainly go further to accomplish its goals. One of the things that I believe would make these programs more successful is to increase the surveillance and monitoring of these juveniles. Increased drug testing, employment verification, electric monitors and things of this nature would give the child more of a reason to refrain from committing illegal activities, in my opinion.

3. Why have delinquency prevention programs generally been so ineffective? Why is this widening criticism of many of these programs a serious indictment? What already effective reintegration programs would you recommend and why?

There are many factors that can be attributed to the ineffectiveness of most delinquency prevention programs. One of the main things that must be considered because they feel an urge to break the law, or rebel. Just as there are many people who enter adult court with ingrained psychological problems that are thought of as irreparable, some juveniles have permanent psychological dispositions to participate in certain illegal activities. Another problem contributing to the ineffectiveness of juvenile crime prevention programs is that they are over too quick, and do not display the necessary level of involvement. Often times, juveniles go through rehabilitation programs completely successfully with no problems but will revert to old behaviors once the program is over. Aftercare programs have attempted to solve this problem, but they are most often too uninvolved to make that great of a difference. Criticism of these programs in mostly unconstructive, simply because pointing out all of the program's flaws only makes people focus on the negative side of them. Because of this, there seems to be a growing discontentment with the existing juvenile justice programs. The government has gone through great deal of research and implementation to try to create a successful juvenile justice system, and criticizing it does little to help its effectiveness. The Intensive Aftercare Program (IAP) is a highly structured program that has shown success in integrating juveniles back into normal life. Another promising program is the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, developed in Oregon, provides highly trained foster parents to deal with troubled youth. This program has shown increased results compared with other similar programs.

4. How has the institutionalization of juveniles evolved through history? How would you describe the treatment of institutionalized juveniles today?

Prior to the progressive era in the United States, juvenile offenders over the age of seven were imprisoned along with adults. Nowadays, this seems ridiculous and extremely dangerous for these children to be confined with convicted adult criminals, but back then it seemed the only feasible punishment option. As more people started to study child psychology and question the existing juvenile delinquency programs, the need for a change became apparent. People started pushing a focus on rehabilitation over punishment for juveniles. This is when the juvenile justice system started resembling the programs and ideologies of today. The state took on the philosophy of "parens patriae" by assuming the role of the juvenile's guardian and implementing rehabilitation programs. The court environment also changed to a more informal one, where all parties involved work together for the betterment of the child instead of the adversarial relationships that are often found in adult court. Contrary to the past, this did not always involve imprisonment. Institutionalized juveniles today are treated with much more care and respect than those in the past. Members of the juvenile justice system are trained to work with the troubled youth that enter the system so that the institutionalization is constructive to the child's future.

5. What are the challenges involved in juvenile institutionalization? How do you believe these challenges should be addressed?

There are many challenges when it comes to examining the institutionalization of juveniles. Because children are so impressionable as they grow up, any legal punishments must be implemented with a great deal of consideration and fragility. One of the most commonly recognized problems with institutionalizing juveniles is that certain juveniles may be negatively impacted by their time in the juvenile justice system because of their interactions with other like-minded juvenile lawbreakers. Often times, a juvenile will be influenced poorly by a more serious offender simply because the two are closely confined together. This has the possibility to cause a child who might have only committed a single minor offense in their entire lifetime to become a repeat offender. This specific challenge could possibly be overcome by assessing each juvenile on a case-by-case basis and recognizing the potential negative effects of institutionalizing certain offenders. Diversion into other programs or punishments could be alternatives to institutionalization. Perhaps the largest challenge that is present in juvenile institutionalization is that once the offenders are released back into their home environment, they often fall back into old habits, including engaging in illegal activities. This can mainly be blamed on the lack of sufficient government supervision after leaving an institution. The government should reallocate its resources and funding to allow for more focus to be placed on juveniles once they are released.

6. How would you quantify success for the Juvenile Justice System? How does system need to change and evolve to be successful?

In my personal opinion, success could be measured by the instance of repeat offenses after the juveniles go through the justice system. After all, the Juvenile Justice System is designed with the primary purpose of rehabilitating young offenders so that they will become productive members of society without breaking the law ever again. Of course, the Juvenile Justice System has had a great deal of trouble attempting to rehabilitate every single youth that breaks the law. Every child is different, which means that rehabilitative processes must be tailored to fit the needs of several diverse juvenile groups. There has been considerable research focused on the different needs of juvenile offenders and how to permanently change their behavior. Lawmakers have implemented a wide variety of programs in order to meet the needs of every possible case that enters the Juvenile Justice System. Even so, there is a great deal of repeat offenses among juveniles who have gone through the system. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that the transition from institutionalization or other juvenile diversion programs back to the home environment is rarely smooth. Usually, there is a sudden cutoff of supervision and counseling and the juvenile can easily revert back to poor behaviors. In order to evolve and realize more success, the Juvenile Justice System must place more importance and focus on juveniles after they have been released from their court- ordered programs/facilities.

7.What is the interrelationship between modern social problems and juveniles at risk? How might improvements be made that would positively affect each?

There is a definite correlation that can be identified between certain social problems that exist in the modern world and juveniles at risk of committing crimes. One of the best examples of this would be the war on drugs. In America, as well as all over the world, illegal drugs play a large part in many people's daily lives. Drug trafficking is a dangerous but extremely lucrative business to those who are willing to take the risk. The sheer prevalence of drugs on the streets of the United States places juveniles at risk merely because they may come in contact with it through a variety of ways. Children who use illegal drugs are often thought of as being edgy and part of the "in-crowd" to their peers. Due to this fact, drug dealers have found that many children are willing purchase their products. Some children eventually even become drug dealers themselves, which is a more serious offense. A relationship can also be identified between gang activity and at risk juveniles because minors are often the most targeted recruits for gangs. Street gangs participate in a wide variety of illegal activity, from vandalism and robbery, to offenses as serious as rape and murder. Any juvenile who is regularly around gang members and/or gang activity becomes more at-risk of becoming involved in this behavior. Implementing programs to keep children out of these illegal activities would have a positive effect on these modern social problems as well. Extracurricular activities and academically motivated achievement rewards could help keep juveniles from breaking the law. If children are involved in other programs, there will be less overall drugs consumed. In the same way, gang activity would decrease because more of the possible gang members would be participating in other productive activities.

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The Roles of the Individuals in the Juvenile Justice System. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved September 25, 2023 , from

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